Wednesday, December 17, 2008

'Tis the Season for Good Movies

I am a big movie fan, with my tastes covering many genres and running from low-brow to high-brow. Although I have a vast DVD collection, plus HBO and other cable choices, and via a home projector can watch movies on my wall about 12 feet across, at least from a technical standpoint I prefer to watch movies in theaters. I don’t particularly like waiting in long lines for popular first-run movies, nor sitting in packed theaters, and am often annoyed by other patrons talking, texting and doing whatever else. And while a pittance compared to what I often spend for live music or theater, $10 for a movie seems like a lot. So I tend to go to relatively few movies each year, though I realize that “relatively” is relative (I used to go to more when I lived near a second run, $3 per movie, cinema, but there are none of those near me now.)

I tend to average about one movie per month, but go to none in many months and tend to go in bunches during in the summer, when the blockbusters are released, and toward year-end, when many higher quality movies are released in hopes of earning Oscar nominations.

Although a couple of the summer blockbusters I saw this year—The Dark Knight and Iron Man—were actually very good movies and are making several year-end Best Of lists that I’ve seen, a couple weeks ago I saw a fabulous movie—Slumdog Millionaire (see my review in a post below) and this past weekend saw an even better one: Milk.

Milk, which I’d give @@@@@, is a bio-pic about Harvey Milk, who in 1977 became the first openly gay elected official in America as a San Francisco City Supervisor, only to be killed the following year. Directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Penn, who gives a remarkable performance, Milk is the best movie I’ve seen this year.

But I’m hoping it’s given a run for its money by several of other highly acclaimed new or upcoming releases I hope to see by year-end or shortly thereafter, including Doubt, Frost/Nixon, The Wrestler, Gran Torino, Revolutionary Road and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And that’s just what I’ve already heard praise about. I’m especially looking forward to The Wrestler, starring Mickey Roarke as the down-and-out title character in what’s said to be a phenomenal performance in a role roughly paralleling his own story. The movie is directed by Darren Aronofsky, who did Pi and Requiem for a Dream, and features a great, newly written title song by Bruce Springsteen.

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